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COVID-19: April 1 Effective Date for FFCRA Leaves

On Tuesday, March 24, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the effective date of the leaves available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be April 1, 2020.  Based on the language in the bill, the effective date was widely believed to be April 2.  The DOL announced the effective date in a “Questions and Answers” document where it also provided answers to some common questions. Other than the April 1 effective date, the information is in line with what we have been advising. The DOL also released two Fact Sheets, both of which appear to contain the same information, but it’s possible they will each be updated in the future with i

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COVID-19 and Your Workplace

The last month has been interesting, dramatic, and stressful as the country has taken small and large measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Employers nationwide are struggling with how to deal with these changes. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions as well as links to several resources that employers may find helpful. What am I obligated to do, legally?There aren’t any universal employer responsibilities that crop up as soon as something is declared a pandemic. That said, pay attention to federal, state, and local authorities to see if they are rolling out benefits or prohibitions that you need to be aware of. For instance, Colorado passed an emergency paid sick leave

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Can we discipline employees for complaining about the company on social media?

Probably not. Depending on what they said, and who responded to it, their speech may be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 protects concerted activity by employees that relates to the terms on conditions of their employment. Concerted means “in concert,” so two or more employees must be involved, but this is easily achieved on social media if a co-worker even just “likes” the post. Terms and conditions could include pay, hours, work environment, treatment from managers, benefits, or violations of labor and employment laws. We understand that this sort of social media activity by employees can be frustrating. One way to reduce the likelihood t

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We received credible reports from several employees and witnesses concerning sexual harassment by a manager. I feel confident in proceeding with termination, but we have not interviewed the accused manager. Should we get “his side of the story” before terminating?

Yes, you’re on safer ground terminating the accused employee if you interview him as part of your investigation – and do the same for other employees accused of harassment. In this case, you might not learn anything that would change your mind about the termination, but it’s still a possibility. More importantly, if the terminated employee were to challenge your decision, you would be able to show that he wasn’t treated any differently than other accused employees.  If you were to skip the interview with him, while typically interviewing other employees who have been accused of harassment or misconduct, he could claim that your decision in his case was discriminatory. A cons

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Federal Law Alert

Reminder—New Minimum Salary for Exempt EmployeesStarting January 1, 2020, most employees who are classified as exempt under the executive, administrative, professional, and computer employee exemptions will need to be paid at least $684 per week or $35,568 per year. See our full report in the News Desk of the HR Support Center for more information.  Minimum Wage Increase for Federal ContractorsOn January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for employees doing work on or in connection with federal contracts will increase to $10.80 per hour. The minimum wage for covered tipped employees will increase to $7.55 per hour.  New W-4In the new year, employers will need to provide the redesi

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We have an employee who generally performs well, but at times behaves immaturely. When she gets upset, she slams things and stomps around the office. She also often says “That’s not my job” when asked to help with something. She’s younger and this is her first job. Is there a best way to address this behavior without it sounding personal? I know I can’t tell her to “grow up,” but I also can’t allow this immature behavior to continue.

Yes, I would suggest you give the employee a verbal warning concerning her unprofessional behavior. While you could, in fact, tell her to “grow up,” that may not be the most useful advice. You can tell her that slamming and stomping are not acceptable behaviors in a professional setting, and that you would appreciate it if she addressed frustrations with her direct supervisor or with you. You should also remind her that you’re on the same team and helping the team is part of everyone’s job description. You might also let her know that you’re there to support her, that you want her to succeed, and that while first jobs can be especially stressful, she’s not alone.  After

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We have had someone request an accommodation for a disability. Can you explain undue hardship?

Under the ADA, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, so long as doing so does not create an undue hardship on the organization. Many state laws also use this standard with respect to accommodations for disability, pregnancy, and lactation, so it’s useful to understand. The basic definition is an action that creates a significant difficulty or expense.The cost of an accommodation could be an undue hardship on the employer, but so could an accommodation’s duration or disruption. An accommodation that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business would be an undue hardship, even if the cost was negligible. But if co

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How to Help Underperforming Employees

There are a lot of reasons why an employee or a team may be underperforming, and sometimes it takes a little digging to get at the root of the problem. Under-performance could be due to a skill gap, unclear expectations, or a lack of incentive to perform. It could be due to obstacles in your organization that prevent people from completing their assignments or getting their work done on time. There could be a combination of factors that would need to be addressed before employees could routinely do their best work.  Consequently, while your performance management process should have some consistency to avoid any discrimination, it also needs to be complex enough to account for a mul

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We received a wage garnishment for child support that the employee doesn’t want us to follow. What should we do?

Valid wage garnishments need to be followed regardless of the affected employee’s feelings on the matter. In this case, you should go ahead and follow the instructions from the garnishing agency, withholding and sending them the specified amounts. The instructions should tell you what kind of notice you need to provide to the employee and provide a contact number if you have questions about remitting the payments. You may want to have a separate conversation with the employee so you can explain your legal obligations and why you cannot refuse to withhold the required amounts. If the employee wishes to get the garnishment discontinued or altered, you can refer the employee to the garnishin

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How Employers Can Address Mental Health in the Workplace

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half the people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. It’s therefore not surprising that mental health has a significant impact in the workplace. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety cost the global economy a trillion dollars per year in lost productivity.  Those who have never suffered from a mental illness often have a hard time understanding the depth of the problem or the inability of a person to “snap out

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